Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Inspiration Month 2015 - November 14th part III

I saved my commentary on model railroad open houses for last. I hope you have enjoyed the previous pictures as much as I did. Now for the critical part: What is the purpose of the Model Railroad November Open House program? I thought it was to introduce the hobby and inspire new modelers. That is what I felt for most of the visits, but 2 of the 8 tours left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I'll use my last 2 stops to show the contrast. Stop #7 was to a first time open houser, Jack Moore and his son Richard. His layout seemed about 50% completed. That usually doesn't put a layout in my "worth the time" category but the difference was in the open welcome and enthusiasm for the hobby that Jack and Richard oozed. We had a very pleasant time talking the hobby, his equipment, and his backdrops. I left feeling good about the hobby and model railroaders.

Jack Moore - the backdrop on the far right is a panoramic shot he took under one of the local Delaware River bridges.
I should have quit there but I had plenty of time left and figured I would travel about a half hour (actually ended up taking 80 minutes [mall Christmas shopping this early in November? #$%]). The travel was exasperated by getting behind a 270Z determined to go 10 mph under the speed limit on a single lane, no passing road for 15 miles. (Oh my! What a waste to give a car like that to a pokey woman!!!) (Ladies, please forgive my outburst.)

I had been to this layout 2 years before and had left with a bad taste in my mouth and the situation was repeated. It was a very nice layout but you couldn't get to see anything without crawling over the 5-6 operators who were bunched up together jabbering with each other and blocking the aisles. I was the only visitor and no one ever said a word to me. Is the purpose just to show off your work or to inspire potentially new model railroaders. I guess I should just be happy that 5 of the 8 visits were enjoyable (plus 1 neutral).

Bottom line is: it is a great hobby because of the great people you meet. I thank the good Lord for my operating crew and hobby friends. Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Inspiration Month 2015 - November 14th part II

For the next sets of pictures I hope I got the right names on the right pictures. My second stop was to the double decker layout of Chris Conaway. It looks like it would be a great layout to operate on but building it must have been challenging with all the obstacles.

Bob Hubbard's layout was beautiful but a nightmare of pipes to duck under and squeeze into (I have got to lose some weight).

I took no photos at the fourth stop which was a club open house with a modest size oval and kids all around. The fifth stop was frustrating. It was a layout previously on the NMRA tour. It was nice but not as spectacular as I would expect from a tour layout. There were only 2 other guests there and after waiting with a camera in hand and unable to get to a section blocked by the other guests for 5 minutes I gave up and left.

Sixth stop Dick Kitz:

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Inspiration Month 2015 - November 14th part I

You gotta love Model Railroad Open Houses (or do you?)! I got to visit 8 open houses on November 14th in the Southern New Jersey area. For the next 3 blogs, I'll document my travels and experiences (and in the 3rd part I'll give you my opinion on what is wrong with some [too many] sites. Hint: it's not the modeling). 

On this trip I decided to mostly go to the ones I had not seen before.

I am amazed at the basement challenges most model railroaders have conquered. (Some basements were not fit for someone over 5' 6"!) Yet they persevered and usually filled every available inch of real estate with some outstanding modeling. This blog will cover my first stop at the layout of William Rose. Building is his thing and he does it extremely well! (It was also a joy to hear his wife, who does not model, gush over his work.)

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Operations! Operations! Operations! Operations! Operations!

That just means we completed our 5th Ops Session. Had my 3 smiling regulars: Tim (Model Railcast Show), Bob (Ntrainz1), and Gene (epumph). And this time our guest operator was Mario (mrodtoo).

Things didn't always go the way they were planned (i.e. trains didn't always run in the direction they were supposed to go) but we had a good time. (Good people make a good hobby!).

I managed to get the Model Power burning building working with 6 volts of batteries. But it takes almost 2 minutes to warm up to flickering so I've order some additional inexpensive battery holders and will move it up to 9 volts. I'll use the 6 volts on the haunted house.

I added a 4th Miller Engineering animated sign (Jesus Saves). I'm a little disappointed in this one since none of the 46 animation combinations highlight the middle S until the "saved" portion kicks in. I think their research failed them. This sign also has a soft high pitched whine when it is on (fortunately the sign is 3+ feet from the layouts edge). It also gave me a jolt (capacitor) when I picked up the control unit on while it was on. 

Finally I added a track to the coal supply portion of the coaling tower (which is on a slight incline and wants to dump the hopper car back into the turntable pit when jostled).

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Lights! Cameras! Action! (and Bridges)

The lighting business started off with trying to figure out the voltage for the Model Power Baldwin Burning Building lighting. I tried to find the answer on a forum but when no one came up with one, I started testing out various voltages. First I tried the 4.5 volts used by the Miller Engineering animated signs but that failed to trigger the flicker. I ended up settling on 6 volts which is a nice multiple of AAA batteries.

So now I need:
.     6v for the building and the oversized street lights (which cannot be on for more than 30 minutes)
.     4.5v for the 3 Miller Engineering animated signs.
.     3v for the Model Power Haunted house and
.     12v for the regular Model Power lighted houses and the NJ Int'l PRR position signals.
They certainly do not make it easy, do they?

There are many electrical tricks to even out the requirements, but I have settled on the cheap and simple solution of ordering a bunch of Chinese 77 cent battery holders (which have an on-off switch) and a handful of batteries. I now need to wait for a slow boat to/from China to get everything (burning building, haunted house, street lights, and signals) set up. In the meantime, I got my 3 Miller Engineering animated signs working and several Model Power houses in North Woodbury hooked up.

The real laugh is that the lights will rarely be on. They exist primarily to amuse/dazzle  the grandkids, visitors, and my wife.

I am also slowly getting closer to the Manayunk bridge designs with my colored paper drawing bridges. Maybe someday I'll have real arched bridges across my raging Schuylkill River.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Operating Session #4 - September 12, 2005

Would you believe we ran a full freight schedule in under 4 hours without the regular yard guy present! What a crew! Tim (Model Railcast guy) couldn't make it due to extended family medical issues so Larry (Blazeman) joined Gene (epumph), Bob (Ntrainz1), and me for our 4th op session on September 12th. Bob did an outstanding job covering the yard and Gene broke in Larry on the Red Oak tower runs (can't block the road crossings during switching, can't put the engine on the coal trestle, can't .....).

This week we concentrated on moving freight (what are we delivering?; where are we delivering it?) as opposed to just running trains and much to our surprise more trains got run than usual.

Gene (epumph) arrived at our last op session with his homework done: Brown tower in Camden. I wanted all the guys to have "skin" in the layout so I gave them all "homework" at the end of the previous Op Session. Bob (Ntrainz) did a beautiful job re-letterering my RDCs for the PRSL and Tim and Gene got Atlas tower kits. Here's Gene's which is now faithfully guarding the entrance(/exit) to the Camden Pavonia Yard. (Tim has an incomplete.)

So far the only problems I detected from the last session were:
  • 2 cars in the outbound Merchandise Transfer that need to stay in the yard for on-line deliveries.
  • 1 car card in the yard belonging to a box car that never got picked up in Woodbury and
  • the Baldwin VO-1000  yard switcher found in staging on the point of the tank sweeper train!
Prior to the session I got the Camden Engine Terminal coaling tower dirtied up. (See the August 1, 2015 post)

My humor occasionally trickles into the waybills. This waybill was their favorite for the weekend:

The actor, Bruce Willis, is actually from Penns Grove which is just off the end of my line and he does specialize in body parts so I thought this was an appropriate industry to model for him!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

It's the Political Season - Vote for Me!:
"A Chicken in Every Pot and a Car in Every Driveway!"

Ignoring the chickens (I don't have any - just 4 cows and 3 goats on the layout), I kept thinking that now that I've added a bigger city I need more vehicles. I am emptying my supply drawers and out of curiosity I counted. I have about 145 vehicles on the layout and ~ 210 people. That should be enough for one for every driveway so Vote For Me!

The real laugh is that I probably have another hundred little folks in storage drawers (is that like the city political machines getting votes from dead names in the cemetery?) Most of my constituents are of Chinese heritage and share the same poses.  (But I am getting tired of the Dutch guys holding their hats on!)

I think we may have found the newest Michael Jordan (lower right hand corner, hanging on the rim):

The zinger is that most of my industries have no people on site! That will probably forces me to buy the more expensive Woodland Scenics figures (native Americans?) in the future (more potential votes?)

I tried to "weather" most of the lighter buildings on the layout. Since I am at least partially color-blind, my weathering consists of charcoal dustings. I think I overdid the Campbell Soup building (on right, now a dirty food place?) but Vote For Me anyway!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Coming to the End (of Stage I Construction)

I have completed all the building that can fit into my loft area and the first pass scenery. Stage I consisted of 3 phases: 1) Brooklawn/Westville/North Woodbury; 2) Woodbury; 3) Camden and Philly. Each leg ran about 17'.

I just filled in half the access hatch of the 3rd phase to build a bigger Camden city and reluctantly violated the aisle area at Westville to build the Texaco refinery (a needed industry). There is no place else to go. Now it is a matter of enhancing/finishing  scenes and making it as much fun as possible for our operating sessions.

Generic scenery was added at the unfinished staging area end (needed a place to put the barn from my deceased friend's layout) so everything has had first pass scenery completed. The end is near! Sooner or later I have to run out of things to ramble on about.

I did submit an article (actually 2) proposal to a hobby magazine last week and am waiting to hear from them. It would cover the prototype Pennsylvania - Reading Seashore Lines and then those of us who model it.

I also put together a Google photo album of my layout in its current state. The photo album is in town order which unfortunately means the first photos are the least finished scenery wise.

Press on the first picture to get the full size photos. I hope you enjoy the journey!